…your top novels.
Blindness, Jose Saramago, 1995
Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy, 1985
Desperate Characters, Paula Fox, 1970
Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee, 1999
G, John Berger, 1972
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925
Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson, 1980
Light Years, James Salter, 1975
The Rings of Saturn, W.G. Sebald, 1995
Stoner, John Williams, 1965
28 thoughts on “Tell us…”
closer by dennis cooper
on the yard by malcolm braly
blood meridian by cormac mccarthy
the tunnel by william gass
white noise by don delillo
mrs. dalloway by virginia woolf
go down, moses by william faulkner
hmm. probably should’ve taken more time with this. after reading over it again, i disagree with my list.
Only two Williams? – why not include William Hurt’s new novel?
…last time i ever participate in one of your posts, douche
first and foremost:
The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway
Minotaur by Benjamin Tammuz
The Journey of Ibn Fattouma by Naguib Mahfouz
How All This Started by Pete Fromm
Stardog by Jack Driscoll
Austerlitz by WG Sebald
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
The Sound and the Fury by Faulkner
The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald
Ulysses by Joyce
Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers
Sunnyside by Glen David Gold
Hush Up and Listen Stinky Poo Butt by Ken Sparling (not even being self-serving here, this is genuinely my favorite Sparling, though they are all pretty close to being on my favorite novels of all time list)
i’m sure i’ll get torched for at least one of those but whatevs.
Great list! I’d like to see Harold Bloom read this list, read it out loud, he’d say, “Austerlitz by WG Sebald and then…we have… Hush up (what?) Hush up and Listen Stinky Poo Butt by…what did I just say?”
Sparling is Sparkling.
I had to use Cliff Notes to get through Sound and Fury, that was a while ago – I needed to know what went on.
My mom was telling me today that she ran into an old teacher of mine and that she was telling her about the press and everything. Then she said, “I didn’t tell her the title of the book you published because I always feel like I’m going to get the ‘stinky butt’ part wrong”
Oh, God, I could never list all of them, but here are some of my absolute favorites from the past 100 years or so:
. SISTER CARRIE, Theodore Dreiser, 1900
. THE WINGS OF THE DOVE, Henry James, 1902
. JAKOB VON GUNTEN, Robert Walser, 1909
. THE RAINBOW, D.H. Lawrence, 1915
. THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, Booth Tarkington, 1918
. ULYSSES, James Joyce, 1922
. A PASSAGE TO INDIA, E. M. Forster, 1924
. MRS. DALLOWAY, Virginia Woolf, 1925
. THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD, Agatha Christie, 1926
. APPOINTMENT IN SAMARRA, John O’Hara, 1934
. NIGHTWOOD, Djuna Barnes, 1936
. THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD, Zora Neale Hurston, 1937
. FERDYDURKE, Witold Gombrowicz, 1938
. AT SWIM-TWO-BIRDS, Flann O’Brien, 1939
. THE JOURNAL OF ALBION MOONLIGHT, Kenneth Patchen, 1941
. THE POKY LITTLE PUPPY, Janette Sebring Lowrey, 1942*
. TWO SERIOUS LADIES, Jane Bowles, 1943
. 1984, George Orwell, 1948
. BLUEBERRIES FOR SAL, Robert McCloskey, 1948*
. THE SHELTERING SKY, Paul Bowles, 1949
. THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER, C.S. Lewis, 1952
. INVISIBLE MAN, Ralph Ellison, 1953
. LOLITA, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955
. LA JALOUSIE, Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1957
. THE JEWELS OF APTOR, Samuel R. Delany, 1962
. THE WOMAN IN THE DUNES, Kobo Abe, 1962
. THE PRYDAIN CHRONICLES, Lloyd Alexander, 1964–8
. DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?, Philip K. Dick, 1968
. SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE, Kurt Vonnegut, 1969
. DO YOU HEAR THEM?, Nathalie Sarraute, 1972
. SAW, Steve Katz, 1972
. TRIPTICKS, Ann Quin, 1972
. IMAGINATIVE QUALITIES OF ACTUAL THINGS, Gilbert Sorrentino, 1971
. TATLIN!, Guy Davenport, 1974**
. LIZARD MUSIC, Daniel Manus Pinkwater, 1976
. CEREBUS THE AARDVARK, Dave Sim and Gerhard, 1977–2004
. IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELER, Italo Calvino, 1979
. TOTTO-CHAN, THE LITTLE GIRL AT THE WINDOW, Tetsuko Kuroyana, 1981
. THE MALADY OF DEATH, Margeurite Duras, 1982
. BLOOD AND GUTS IN HIGH SCHOOL, Kathy Acker, 1984
. BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, and Lynne Varley, 1986
. DEATH IN SPRING, Mercè Rodoreda, 1986
. WATCHMEN, Allan Moore and David Gibbons, 1986
. CIGARETTES, Harry Mathews, 1987
. WITTGENSTEIN’S MISTRESS, David Markson, 1988
. THE ART LOVER, Carole Maso, 1990
. THREE BLONDES AND DEATH, Yuriy Tarnawsky, 1993
. GOD HEAD, Scott Zwiren, 1996
*Technically “children’s books,” but they’re self-contained, and like novels when you’re a wee one.
**Technically a story collection, but the whole thing has to be read together to really make sense, and the final story “The Dawn in Erewhon,” is as long as a novel.
And BULLET PARK by John Cheever, 1969
I liked the excerpt that Francine Prose had in her book about Two Serious Ladies – that is on my list.
Will somebody help me? I can’t seem to read a novel. I start and stop. Went through three this morning. What should I read first? Last? Explain your answer.
Two Serious Ladies
Gospel According to Jesus Christ
I start and stop novels all the time. I think that’s normal. They’re undertakings! And pity the poor person who had to write it… As someone once said, no single person will ever spend as long reading a novel as the author did writing it.
Of the above, with no other knowledge, I’d go with the Castle first. Because it’s the oldest, and that’s a good reason. It will inform the others; the other authors may even have read it.
The Tunnel is a great book but it’s a big commitment. And I’d definitely read O-Luck first. Also, note that you can listen to Gass reading The Tunnel aloud should you like—so you can save it for car trips!
Two Serious Ladies is a work of brilliance but I’d read the Castle first.
Regarding which, I haven’t read the Mark Harman’s translation yet, but folks say it’s BIG DIFFERENT from the Muir translation.
But first, you should read THE MALADY OF DEATH, as a warm-up. I love that book. You can finish it in like five minutes, and feel good the whole rest of the day.
And Adam, I seriously want that audiobook.
It’s available through Dalkey.
And not to cheat them of a sale, but you can borrow my copy the next time you’re in Chicago.
Omensetter’s Luck because it offers Gass’s strengths, that is, close limning of consciousness, luscious lyricism, and essayistic asides in condensed form, well, at least in contrast with The Tunnel. Here’s DFW on OL: “Gass’ first novel, and his least avant-gardeish, and his best. Basically a religious book. Very sad. Contains the immortal line ‘The body of Our Saviour shat but Our Saviour shat not.’ Bleak but gorgeous, like light through ice.”
The Tunnel is a beast. It will eat you up and spit out the pieces, and you will resemble the remains an owl hacks up after finishing a meal. While certainly all-consuming, you can break your reading into its twelve “philippics.” Why read it? Because it will stretch you.
Yes, I read that Wallace quote before. His conversation is very enlightening. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP9TWD5QaRY
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Easter Parade & Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
White Noise & Americana by Don DeLillo
The Verificationist & Hundred Brothers by Donald Antrim
Home Land (& The Ask…?) by Sam Lipsyte
What a wacky guy that Antrim is.
RECOLLECTIONS OF A GOLDEN TRIANGLE / TOPOLOGY OF A PHANTOM CITY by ALAIN ROBBE-GRILLET
PERIOD by DENNIS COOPER
THE SHIP by HANS HENNY JAHNN
JULIA AND THE BAZOOKA by ANNA KAVAN
THE IMPOSSIBLE by GEORGES BATAILLE
COMPACT by MAURICE ROCHE
THE PARK by PHILIPPE SOLLERS
STRANGE LANDSCAPE by TONY DUVERT
TEATRO GROTTESCO by THOMAS LIGOTTI
THE DRIVER’S SEAT by MURIEL SPARK
IN YOUTH IS PLEASURE by DENTON WELCH
PLAY IT AS IT LAYS by JOAN DIDION
MOUNT ANALOGUE by RENE DAUMAL
THE STORY OF O by PAULINE REAGE
THE EYES by JESUS IGNACIO ALDAPUERTA
VICTIMS by JOHN HEJDUK
POWR MASTRS by CF
THE CAGE by MARTIN VAUGHN-JAMES
HOUSE OF LEAVES by MARK Z DANIELEWSKI
SWEET SWEAT by JUSTINE FRANK
There are three books with apocryphal authors on my list.
Hey Greg & all,
I probably read far less fiction than a lot of you folks, but here are some of my favorites off the top of my head that I didn’t see mentioned:
PALE FIRE, Vladimir Nabokov
IMPRESSIONS OF AFRICA, Raymond Roussel
THE UNNAMABLE, Samuel Beckett
THE WAVES, Virginia Woolf
A NEST OF NINNIES, John Ashbery & James Schuyler
EUNOIA, Christian Bök
Interesting choice of The Unnamable. I guess it really is seperate from the other two. Though, has it ever been sold seperate?
I have the trilogy bundled together in an English version, but it was published as a seperate novel in French in ’53:
…but now that you mention it, Greg, I’d be willing to put all three on my list.
oh geez, how did i forget about Roussel! I haven’t read Impressions… yet, but Locus Solus belongs on my list as well
Mike: If you like Roussel, then IMPRESSIONS is going to knock your socks off– it’s just incomparable. You should procure a copy ASAP!
And, yeah, LOCUS SOLUS is fantastic.
LOCUS SOLUS is fantastic, but that translation is…something else. I kind of like it, but largely for perverse reasons. There needs to be another one done, pronto.
Flann O’Brien, Joyce, Woolf, Nabokov – it’s all there already.
I’d like to add JIMMY CORRIGAN, THE SMARTEST KID ON EARTH by Chris Ware, and TRISTRAM SHANDY – Laurence Sterne.
100 Years of Solitude by GGM
One of Ours by Willa Cather
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
Family by J. California Cooper
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Humboldt’s Gift by Saul Bellow
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Anne Frank’s Diary
Just to name a few…
Thanks Aleathia! That Cather book is one I hardly hear mentioned.